Breeding chickens becomes labour of love
Maurice Tucker has a passion for birds – so much so he interrupted his honeymoon to pick up chickens from a train station.
This weekend he will be taking part in the annual Invercargill Pigeon and Poultry Club show.
He first entered the competition in 1955, and has been a member of the club for almost as long, winning many prizes.
"My father had chickens, and my grandfather before him, so I've virtually been a breeder all my life," Mr Tucker said.
His favourite chickens were those that had personality. "The ones that become your favourites are the ones that respond to you. When I go out to feed them there's one that gets up and sits on top of the fence. Of course she doesn't get the food any faster, but she hops up anyway as if to say `I'm here!'."
Mr Tucker said keeping and breeding chickens was a labour of love for him and his wife, but it required year-round attention.
"I don't show as many (chickens) as I used to," he said.
The birds love their greens, and in winter he feeds them a lot of swede. "They love leftovers, a bit of meat or stew would be their favourite. We'll sometimes give them a wee bit of bread. It's not very good for them, but it's a treat. I'll go out into the yard with a handful (of bread) every now and again."
Mr Tucker and his wife, Melva, collect up to 20 eggs a day.
Mr Tucker said breeding chickens was great for young people. "It's good for youngsters to be involved with chooks, it teaches them responsibility. After a while they (the chickens) become tame and quite friendly. They're not bird-brained at all, they know what's what."
Competitors from throughout Southland and as far away as Christchurch will be at the two-day show at the Kennington Kennel Association Hall. There are about 600 entries for the show, which is open to the public tomorrow from 1pm-6pm, and on Sunday from 10am-1pm.
The Southland Times